The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 4

Connor Bennett Roar Guru

By Connor Bennett, Connor Bennett is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Each week we’ll be looking at the best of the best in Australian rugby and piecing together the top 15 players out of the Aussie Super Rugby sides from the round gone by.

    For the second week in a row, the only win from an Australian side came in an all-Aussie affair as the Brumbies ground their way past the Waratahs in Sydney in a wet and scrappy affair.

    The Rebels put in one hell of a fight against the Chiefs in Melbourne, leading by four coming into the final ten minutes before conceding two late tries in the dying stages to give up the points.

    Over on the other side of the world, the Reds were embarrassed in Johannesburg by last year’s grand finalists, letting in seven tries to two against the Lions.

    The Force had the bye this week as the Aussie sides continue to make this list a difficult task to put together with a string of poor performances. On that note, here’s the top 15 for Round 4.

    1. Tom Robertson (Waratahs)
    Now I know a lot of you will hate this list starting off with a Tahs player after some pretty negative feedback on anyone from the Waratahs making the team of the week in the early rounds.

    There wasn’t a lot to work with in terms of the loosehead this week but Robertson was the best of an average bunch. A pair of tackle busts, strong mauling off the lineout when the Waratahs had the Brumbies backpedalling on their own line, and not to mention a try in the first half, has him ahead of the pack this week.

    2. James Hanson (Rebels)
    Hanson had a ripper game against the Chiefs this week and could even be the best Aussie player of the round.

    Against a much more fancied pack, Hanson was a machine with the ball in hand and in the scrum, keeping the Chiefs big men at bay for nearly 70 minutes on the way to what looked like a massive win for the club. He was a habitual advantage line breaker and carried the front row through much of the contest.

    3. Laurie Weeks (Rebels)
    Ala’alatoa had a solid outing for the Brumbies, but a lack of consistency in a messy fixture against the Tahs hurt his chance this week.

    Weeks worked wonders with the aforementioned Hanson, as well as loosehead Sa’aga, up against the Chiefs in the scrum in particular, but his running game caused bulk damage around the edges of the ruck as well, drawing the defence into the centre to create space out wide.

    4. Dean Mumm (Waratahs)
    Mumm makes his first appearance in the team of the week this season for a gritty, if not unspectacular, effort in wet conditions against the Brumbies.

    While certainly not the internet’s favourite player, Mumm made lemonade out of what he was given in a tough second half for the home side as the Brumbies ran away with the game. That and he was better than some sluggish efforts from the rest of the Australian sides.

    5. Sam Carter (Brumbies)
    It was Carter’s defence that earns him his spot in the side this week, keeping the Waratahs contained under pressure on their own line in the first half.

    Carters fringe defence and protection of the inside halves was an underrated factor of the Brumbies winning performance, keeping the damage minimal in the first 40 minutes when they were behind in the contest.

    6. Hendrick Tui (Reds)
    Jordy Reid had a strong outing for the Rebels, however, Tui was really one of very few standouts for the Reds in their dodgy effort against the Lions in South Africa, so he gets the nod.

    The Japanese international was really the only one of a struggling forward pack to threaten the Lions in attack, breaking the advantage line regularly and dominating the lineout for the Queensland side in an otherwise forgettable match-up.

    7. Colby Fainga’a (Rebels)
    Brother of Wallabies Anthony and Saia, Colby gets his spot in the limelight this week with a strong outing against the Chiefs as a part of one of the Rebels better forward pack performances in the clubs short history.

    Fainga’a was a presence in both offence and defence, breaking the line more on more than one occasion, making more metres than any other Rebels forward, bar one…

    8. Amanaki Mafi (Rebels)
    And that was Number 8 Amanaki Mafi who has made a big impact in his first season with the Rebels.

    He racked up 83 metres from 14 carries, including two offloads and a pair of tackle busts, using his pure size and strength to muscle his way through the Chiefs defence, especially firing in the opening half when the match was in a real grinding contest.

    9. Joe Powell (Brumbies)
    Despite just one start from 11 games across two years prior to this season, Powell has slotted in without a hitch at the Brumbies No. 9 position, showing a lot of promise for a young player on the rise.

    While less than perfect, the 22-year-olds guidance and ball movement around the paddock against the Waratahs was a key factor in their second half resurgence on Saturday night, not to mentioned a very handy kicking game off the back of the ruck, with one in particular setting up a peach of a try for Henry Speight.

    10. Jackson Garden-Bachop (Rebels)
    The young man impressed in his early showing with the Rebels, showing off his skills as a running flyhalf not afraid to take on the line.

    His kicking game was stern but his ball movement and affliction to drawing in the defence and putting his body on the line proved to be a beneficial tactic against the Chiefs, even setting up Marika Koroibete to take the lead early in the second half.

    11. Marika Koroibete (Rebels)
    Speaking of, the former Melbourne Storm flyer scored his first try in Super Rugby over the weekend, crossing in the left-hand corner thanks to a cutout ball from Garden-Bachop.

    Koroibete was dangerous down that left flank for much of the first half and while still far from perfect, he’s taking baby steps towards becoming the player he was hyped up to be when prematurely selected for the Wallabies squad last year.

    Marika Koroibete of the Storm runs with the ball during the Round 20 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Saturday, July 23, 2016. (AAP Image/David Crosling)

    12. Duncan Paia’aua (Reds)
    Paia’aua was an offensive powerhouse for the Reds backline in a tough match-up for them this week, a bright spark among a litany of errors and a Quade Cooper red card that had the backs struggling.

    Pairing up with Samu Kerevi in the centres, Paia’aua racked up the third most running metres of anyone from either side, snagging 83 metres from just 10 runs, including the finishing touches of a very nice opening try for the Reds late in the game thanks to the lead up work of Jake McIntyre and Karmichael Hunt.

    13. Tom English (Rebels)
    The 26-year-old was destructive when taking on the line against the Chiefs, often being the centrepiece of their set piece off the lineout. He made five tackle busts from 10 carries, including a few offloads just for good measure.

    He was key in opening up the defence for his outside runners as well as prying on tired legs late in the game to keep the Melbourne side in the contest. His running metres were bested by only one man in the game, All Black Anton Lienert-Brown.

    14. Henry Speight (Brumbies)
    In his seventh season with the Brumbies now, Speight nearly single-handedly won the game for his side in the second half with two blistering tries to snag the lead late in the game.

    The 28-year-old pulled out a magical solo effort from inside his own half, latching onto a deft box kick from Powell, before beating two defenders and kicking through again past the fullback to cross the line.

    His second was another solo effort, this time using speed and strength to break through a line full of tired defenders to get in under the posts. He also made a ridiculous seven tackle busts from only eight runs.

    15. Jack Debreczeni (Rebels)
    Rounding out the Rebels dominance of this weeks side is fullback Jack Debreczeni.

    Averaging nearly ten metres per run, his kicking and return game from the back was key in keeping the Chiefs under pressure for three-quarters of the game, as well as his power in drawing in key defenders on the set piece.

    The New Zealand-born Debreczeni showed consistency, something other fullbacks from Round 4 struggled with.

    Do you agree with the XV? You’re sporting fans, of course you don’t, so let us know who you think should or shouldn’t be in the side for this week.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:01am
      BeastieBoy said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      Australian Rugby desperately needs a star team and star players to follow. Henry Speight was great to see. We need a few more stepping up and staying there. Gee if the Brumbies get get a roll on too. Well that would be just great.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 7:53am
      Fionn said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Connor, I get that everyone sees everything differently, and that everyone is a critic, and I appreciate that you stick your neck out to do this.

      That being said, I simply can’t fathom how you manage to get two of the Waratahs’ tight 5 in the team given how atrociously pathetic the team, and particularly their tight 5, were. In my opinion (and I accept you must have seen it differently, each to their own) each player in the tight 5 of the Brumbies comprehensively outplayed their opponents from the Waratahs. The game was played and won up front in the battle of the forwards, and the Brumbies ere better at the breakdown. Also, the Waratahs dropped so many balls and their scrum was a joke. The Tahs tight 5 have to wear that.

      Robertston, maybe, but Mumm? Really?

      Also, was picking Tui over Fardy simply to keep Reds fans from complaining that you’re biased against them?

      • March 20th 2017 @ 8:55am
        Browny said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        I thought Fardy was good. I also thought the Rebels locks, Retallick and to a lesser extent Cummins, did pretty well, more so when you consider the expectations of them and the calibre of the players they were facing up against.

        Mafi has been a revelation so far in a fairly bleak 2017 for Melbourne. Geez I’m looking forward to seeing the full strength Rebels back row in action. McMahon, Timani and Mafi with Fainga’a or Reid coming in from the pine… that’s a pretty dynamic loose trio. Bring in the likes of Day and Smith towards the end of the season and the pack should do ok. It appears that with the news of the French merger collapsing my hopes of reclaiming Hugh Pyle and Paul Alo-Emile might be vanquished but if the pack continues to perform like they did, perhaps with a little more proficiency in the lineout, then I’ll be comfortable with it.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 11:11am
          Machooka said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          Agree Browny about Mafi… very sound in the #8 position.

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 11:13am
            Fionn said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            Shame he can’t play for the Wallabies, isn’t it! Even so, with Fardy having a renaissance a 6-7-8 of Fardy-Hooper/McMahon-Timani doesn’t sound too bad!

            • March 20th 2017 @ 11:38am
              Browny said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

              Fardy, Hooper and Timani has a reasonable balance of loose and tight running, over the ball presence, lineout capability and overall mass. Mad Dog McMahon coming in hot from the bench covering all three spots.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 12:38pm
              Selector said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

              It doesn’t sound too bad, but It’s sad though that I would take Japan’s 6 (Tui) & 8 (Mafi) over any options we have in this country any day of the week.

              Hopefully it is more a sign of the strength of Japan Rugby, than any inadequacies within Australia………

            • March 20th 2017 @ 1:23pm
              Selector said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

              I would see Higgers over Fardy at the moment. Shame about Dempsey as well, he was starting to come along nicely.

              • March 22nd 2017 @ 12:29pm
                DaveR said | March 22nd 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                I think Higgers will come into his own this year barring injury or suspension, and again become the 8 of choice, he just has so much attack. That leaves Hooper at 7 and Fardy at 6 being the best combination at the moment, with McMahon (either 6 or 7) Timani (8) and Reid (6) (all rebels) to fill in.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 9:27am
      Ray said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      I agree with Fionn, re these ridiculous selection, but to the wider picture.
      The problems with Australian rugby are not lack of available talent as proven on Saturday night. If you offered the Waratahs a choice of adding any individual Brumby into their team before the game, they would have declined on even Fardy, as they have talent to burn across the field. In the game they were beaten in all departments including the scrum, the lineouts, the attacking maul, the defensive maul, the kicking game and backline attack (basically because Waratahs did not use their backline as it is full of slow loose forwards.
      Every time that the Brumbies made a play, all players knew what was to happen, what their role was, and committed to making it happen.
      The Waratahs look like they don’t have a plan for anything and play like it is all off-the -cuff, and that only works for a supreme talent like Beale.
      The Waratah problem is there is no real coaching of the talent to play as a team, and they will continue to be beaten by well coached teams. Their Captains and Coaches comments during and after the game reflect a total lack of understanding of what is going on, and what isn’t working. Their comments after the SA trip also lacked any meaningful understanding of what needed fixing.

      Insufficient talent is not the problem across the Australian teams as the Brumbies are proving again this year, and I think the Force may also show this year, but poor quality coaching. If Waratahs get Haylett-petty or Reece next year they will sit on a bench, or play out of position with Beale coming back and that would be a waste of talent. 

      Australia must retain 5 teams, or walk away from SANZAR.,
      Preferably I think an Australian – NZ only comp would be best for us.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 12:59pm
        Hoy said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

        Poor coaching is our problem indeed.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 10:28am
      Celtic334 said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      I would of had Fardy in the line up. I also thought Hawera played well, in what was overall a fair ordinary game.

      Player of the week either Colby Faingaa, Joe Powell or Henry Speight. Can we just all start to talk now that Powell should be the obvious under study to Genia for the June tests.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 11:12am
      Machooka said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      Thanks Connor… now bring in the clowns 🙂

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 11:22am
      Fionn said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

      Does anyone else think that Paia’aua or Debreczeni might actually be the Wallabies’ option at 10 this year, or Paia’aua at 12? Not impressed with any of the Aussies, and most of them aren’t even Australian.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 11:27am
        Celtic334 said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        I am a Rebels fan, and have to say not a chance.

        The pecking order is

        I’d even say Godwin would be above both. Not saying either won’t get to that standard, but it won’t be this year.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 11:29am
          Paul said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report



        • March 20th 2017 @ 11:41am
          Browny said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          Deb has been playing fullback this year anyway and it appears that’s where he’s more comfortable. I’m not sure if this is right, I was at the game (Koroibete went over right in front of me), but it appeared as the match went on and Deb got more comfortable and more involved he also was stepping into first receiver quite often. Could be a good sign for moving forward.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 11:42am
          Fionn said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          I dunno, Celtic. Foley hasn’t played at all and (I know this is a contentious topic) I don’t rate him as an international quality flyhalf due to his lack of boot and his defence being as bad as Cooper’. The other two are young and untested, but I wouldn’t be averse to giving one of them a shot if Foley doesn’t play well when he comes back from his concussion. Getting them to develop in June would be a good way to see where they are at.

          That said, I sort of expect Cheika to play Beale at 10 anyway.

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 1:02pm
            Hoy said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Beale is a terrible 10, though slightly better than Foley, and I wouldn’t be sure that Cheika sees him that way anyway… I think Cheika loves him outside Foley… though if 10 isn’t Foley, then I am not sure what Cheika will do…

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